This study aims to integrate commercial measurement and communication components into a scour monitoring system with magnets or electronics embedded in smart rocks, and evaluate and improve its performance in laboratory and field conditions for the movement of smart rocks. Properly-designed smart rocks were found to be automatically rolled into the very bottom of a scour hole and can give critical information about the maximum scour depth and effectiveness of rip-rap mitigation strategies. Four types of smart rock technologies were investigated in this proof-of-concept phase of study, including passive with embedded magnets, active with magneto-inductive communication, active with controllable magnet rotation, and active with acoustic communication. Their performances were evaluated against three criteria: 1) movement accuracy within 0.5 m, 2) transmission distance between 5 and 30 m, and 3) at least one measurement every 15 minutes. Test results demonstrated that the proposed smart rocks are cost-effective, viable technologies for bridge scour monitoring.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Second Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering


United States. Department of Transportation
Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)

Keywords and Phrases

Smart Rocks; Wireless Communication; Scour Depth; Rip-Rap Mitigation; Magnetic Field; Magneto-inductive Coupling; Acoustic Communication

Report Number


Document Type

Technical Report

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2013 Missouri University of Science and Technology, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2013